The American Irish Historical Society opened its doors on 5th Avenue at 80th Street in 1897, in a Gilded Age mansion designed by architect Ogden Codman, Jr. known for co-authoring Edith Wharton’s first book, The Decoration of Houses. The society sheds light on the achievements of the Irish living in America: the motto of the organization is “That the world may know.” Located right across the street of Metropolitan Museum of Art, the mansion, which houses exhibitions, artifacts and a whole of history, opened its doors to Untapped Cities readers recently. A follow-up tour will be offered on Saturday, August 3rd, so get your tickets soon!
Upon entering from street level, you’ll arrive in a lobby grotto with gorgeous statues. An antique elevator, added later, goes down to the basement, and to upper floors. The impeccably renovated interior showcases well-proportioned, sizable entertainment rooms, including a main sitting room, dining room, music room, and a board room. Each location has a particular charm, especially considering that many of the original furnishing remain.
Members of the American Irish Historical Society partake in events and parties that happen in these rooms, including concerts, plays, lectures and literary readings, which all highlight Irish heritage and accomplishments. The organization is non-partisan, non-sectarian and open to most. They also publish a “bi-annual literary and historical journal called The Recorder,” according to the American Irish Historical Society’s website.
The society’s library houses over 10,000 volumes, which is “the most complete private collection of Irish and American Irish history and literature in the United States,” according to the website. Te society boasts past members like President Theodore Roosevelt, politician William Bourke Cockran, composer George M. Cohan, tenor John McCormack and more: some of whom are honored with busts that decorate the house.
To get inside and see more of the American Irish Historical Society, join our next tour on August 3rd:
Next, read Inside the American Irish Historical Society Townhouse on Fifth Avenue for Polytope, The Top 10 Secrets of the American Irish Historical Society on NYC’s 5th Avenue and The Historic Castles of Ireland.